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Full text of "Rapid Population Growth Consequences And Policy Implications"

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detail in other chapters of this book.* One of the effects is to enable parents to keep a higher proportion, and indeed a greater number, of their children in school for any given level of sacrifice. On the national level, as discussed earlier, a decline in fertility permits expansion of education to cover a greater proportion of the eligible population at any given level of expenditure. Since declining fertility facilitates economic development, including higher total output and investment outlays (55, 56, and references cited therein), it should also be possible for the level of educational expenditure to be higher than if fertility remained high.
The feedback effects between fertility decline, educational advance, and other elements in economic development indicate how exceedingly complex a task it is for a development-oriented government to calculate in any precise fashion where it can obtain the best returns from another dollar spent on development. No government, of course, can subsume all other goals beneath that of economic development, and many factors operate to keep the strictly developmental budget within a straitjacket: the priority typically accorded defense expenditures; the strength of the social demand for various services; and, in some cases, the need to maintain a swollen government bureaucracy to provide employment and limit disaffection—to name just three.
However, even if the government is in a position to accord high priority to development goals, it must still rely to a large extent on intelligent guesswork to guide it into a pattern of investment in which the social return from additional expenditures in each area will be equal. Here the specific concern is with the question of government investment in education and in fertility reduction, not because they are any more substitutive for each other than they are individually substitutive for a wide range of other investments, but because they are the two kinds of investment most directly related to the issues discussed in this chapter.
Returns from Expenditures
To date in most developing countries the need to expand education has been considered "self-evident": education has been seen as a basic human right that should not be evaluated merely in cold economic terms; even in these economic terms, the need to break the bottleneck of skilled manpower shortages has seemed justification enough. There were countries where this was not so, notably India and the U.A.R., but these were exceptions.
*See T. Paul Schultz, "An Economic Perspective on Population Growth"; Harvey Leibenstein, "The Impact of Population Growth on Economic Welfare"; and J. D. Wray, "Population Pressure on Families: Family Size and Child Spacing," in this least some government involvement in family planning activities (49).